A streetcar named nowhere

The City of Atlanta recently announced that the United States Department of Transportation would provide a grant of $47.6 million to partially fund a $72 million streetcar project that will stretch from Centennial Olympic Park to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center. 

Members of the Atlanta City Council, Rep. John Lewis and some local business owners are hailing it as an “innovative” project that will reduce gridlock and create jobs. But if history is any guide, those hopes will fade much like the streetcars that ran in the city until 1949. Common sense will tell you the same thing.  

The idea that this project is going to reduce gridlock is laughable. This streetcar will service a relatively short stretch, a little over a mile, in an area designed to attract tourists; the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola and the CNN Center will be among the stops. But while this streetcar is running in this small section of the city, hundreds of drivers each day will still be sitting in traffic elsewhere.  As is often the case when cities waste taxpayer funds on “smart growth” strategies and transit projects, rather than focusing on projects that move people from where they are to where they want to go, this project will become a fiscal drag on a city already badly in debt. 

Businesses along the line will assist with capital and operating costs, and the city will contribute $15.6 million to help kick off construction. While riding on a streetcar may have a certain nostalgic appeal to some, it is hard to do anything but question the wisdom of city leaders for committing to fund this pork project when they are staring down a severe pension crisis; Atlanta faces an unfunded liability of $1.5 billion in employee pensions and unemployment remains in double digits. 

Leaders of the city may have a romantic view of the streetcar; but in reality, it is a luxury item that Atlanta cannot afford now or in the future.

-by Bob Barr, The Barr Code

94 comments Add your comment

Burroughston Broch

November 19th, 2010
6:58 am

Amen!
If we cannot fund the Pothole Posse or sidewalks or police or pensions or (fill in the blanks), we must not fund this streetcar.
It’s another MARTA boondoggle – 480 new jobs to operate 3 streetcars.
In 10 years the project will have been built, operated, and shut down because it will be a money pit.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

November 19th, 2010
7:04 am

Follow the money trail – who is getting the city’s money here?

Waht if

November 19th, 2010
7:34 am

Thanks Bob. Lessee, $72 million (BEFORE the inevitable cost overrruns) less $47.6 million is – hm – why, that would be 24.4 million! And out of whose pockets will that come (while, I might note, some other idiots are trying to get into our pockets for yet another stadium?). Maybe somebody should point out to them that you can’t GET here from there given the total absence of any sensible regional planning for the past how many decades?

NPR

November 19th, 2010
7:53 am

has anyone except me considered what would happen if the streetcar became a runaway streetcar, careening through altanta’s tourist district at over 150 miles per hour? (The winning contractor is a Japanese company). Where’s the contingency plan? Where’s Denzel Washington? I will not fund this proposal. I will not vote for it. I will not allow any insurance company to underwrite this idea. No way. Not even the little green guy we all love so well would insure this, so Bob Barr has nothing to worry about. This will die in committee as it should.

bravo bob! I expects I be respectin any mans whats lives by the barr codes.

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Question Man

November 19th, 2010
8:33 am

Shouldn’t it be called a “Streetcar Named Insiders?” Why did you fail to point out that Atlanta’s honchos specifically chose to seek funding for this streetcar rather than the BeltLine? Why didn’t you direct some disappointment at those in Atlanta who are deciding on these transit priorities? Aren’t those honchos more interested in show than substance (and their own power and pocketbooks than the interests of the City)? Aren’t those honchos people such as Tom Bell, Bernie Marcus, Lawrence Ashe, the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, Brian Leary (BeltLine CEO), John Lewis, and big landowners/developers?

bob

November 19th, 2010
8:36 am

They better keep $3 million in reserve to tear it up after 2 years of non-use!

jdl2

November 19th, 2010
8:39 am

Bob, that’s why we live in Cobb. Remember?

Tychus Findlay

November 19th, 2010
8:41 am

Rather than fund a streetcar in the name of tourism, why don’t we do something to drive off the aggressive panhandling that scares tourists away.

Commmon Man

November 19th, 2010
8:44 am

Now when we have out of town visitors that want to go see downtown Atlanta, besides taking them to Underground Atlanta, we can take them on a ride in the StreetCar. YeeHa!!!

LoFlyer

November 19th, 2010
8:44 am

Bob, I disagree with you on a lot issues, but you are right on target with this one. I am sure most of us remember the ill-fated train-wreck called “Fan-plex” created for the express purpose of keeping the redundant Atlanta Stadium Authority in business. We all watched in dismay at the crazy scheme that we were told would revitalize the area and provide employment. It was obvious to anyone that the scheme would not work and was a brazen attempt to justify the stadium authorities existence which should of been shut down when the old stadium was demolished and Turner Field was built. Fan-plex was a total failure and I don’t know what the status of the stadium authority is nowadays, Internet search didn’t come up with any valid hits on the subject.
This is even worse than Fan-plex. 72 million dollars for a few street-cars running to the King center? This is insanity that every tax-payer in the country will pay for. It would be far less expensive to just subsidize free taxi service to the King center. Everyone of the politicians involved in this turkey should be fired, tarred and feathered, and run out on a rail.

carlosgvv

November 19th, 2010
8:45 am

I lived in Atlanta in the early 60’s and could and did walk the streets at night without any fear. Now, downtown Atlanta is ruined and any money spent there should be spent on the Police Department and doing something about the homeless and panhandlers.

Mr. Spock

November 19th, 2010
8:49 am

I saw John Lewis interviewed after the announcement and he was patting himself on the back saying it was his tireless efforts and personal relationship with the National Secretary of Transportation that landed this great project. He personally had to travel all over the world with Mr. Secretary to convince him of the merits of this great project. We are to blame for continually electing these morons to office.

Greg

November 19th, 2010
9:01 am

Again, can you talk about a more recent issue? Boortz was talking about this weeks ago.

The AJC Stinks

November 19th, 2010
9:08 am

When Democrats are in power, they dump tens of millions of dollars on Atlanta, which the politicians steal. Do you remember the scam call the “Atlanta Empowerment Zone?” It empowered many black politicians to steal millions.

whatanidiot

November 19th, 2010
9:08 am

“The idea that this project is going to reduce gridlock is laughable. ”

The purpose of the streetcar isnt to reduce traffic. It was never proposed as a means to reduce traffic. Its like saying “expanding 285 isnt going to help tourism downtown.” No sh*t sherlock, thats not the point of the project. The point of the project is to make downtown more amenable to tourists and to connect the major tourist parts downtown (MLK Center, Centennial, Aquarium, Coke, etc.)

Reality

November 19th, 2010
9:13 am

The streetcar will certainly be great for the torists visiting all of those Atlanta attractions.

Other than that, it really won’t make a difference.

Dirty Dawg

November 19th, 2010
9:24 am

Nobody said that this was intended to ‘move people rapidly through Atlanta’, and yes it is, essentially, designed to accommodate and facilitate tourism. Atlanta has many hundreds of thousands of visitors annually – perhaps even millions – that are coming primarily for conventions, sports events and association meetings. Atlanta is also the primary tourism destination for African American families – reunions, etc….however Atlanta also has the reputation among visitors as a city with nothing to do, when the truth is there’s plenty to do it’s just, virtually, impossible to get there. If the city can provide an easy, attractive, safe and inexpensive mode of transport between the MLK Historic Site and the attractions surrounding Centennial Park it will be an incentive for folks to come earlier and stay longer – with something to do while you’re here that will produce revenue…revenue that will contribute greatly to the cost of operation in the years ahead.

Of course there are also those that will see it as just another way to allow blacks to intrude – kinda like what jdI2 reminded us of above.

Fact is streetcars remain an important part of many cities’ ‘attraction’ across the country…those that never got rid of theirs and those that have built them over the years, but knowing the short-sightedness of many of our political leaders, when given the chance to ‘make a statement’ (not that a simple streetcar is that much of a statement) they’ll opt for ‘ordinary’. Build a bridge across the interstate at 17th street that would become a visual icon for the city? Naaah, let’s save a few dollars and just paint it yellow…design a new performance hall for the High complex that could rival those in many other US cities? Naaah – lets same a few more bucks and, again, just do something ‘ordinary’. Suppose that we should be thankful that back in the early part of the last century somebody decided that the Fox Theater should be special rather than save a few bucks and jsut make it a big, ordinary, box.

Your past Mr. Barr has shown that when it comes to ‘progress’ you opt for ‘not’, or maybe it’s that you think the term ‘progress’ is short for progressive, which is a euphemism for liberal…and we all know that would never do, don’t we?

Scott

November 19th, 2010
9:24 am

We need more and more projects like the streetcar to help make the city a more desirable place. Tourism results in retail, retail results in in-town household development. Once people live in the city, they can experience things like nice restaurants, sporting events, concerts, plays, proximity to the airport, museums, and less traffic. Or they can stay in Cobb in a very big house that they don’t use and go out to eat at Applebees.

Turn it up to Eleven

November 19th, 2010
9:25 am

I’m not sure what the complaint in this peice is about….

The fact is Atlanta sought to gain a share of the second round of TIGER grants available from US DOT. If this money hadn’t been awarded to Atlanta, it would have been spent somewhere else – no one’s taxes are being raised, and the federal deficit isn’t going any higher just because this money is coming to Atlanta. If the complaint is about the existence of TIGER grants in the first place, then the focus of the peice should be directed toward US DOT, not Atlanta.

Second, while there may be more worthwhile projects under proposal in Atlanta for traffic mitigation and congestion relief, the funding for these has so far not been available. Atlanta failed in the first round of TIGER grants because 1) these proposals were not far enough along in development, and 2) the city and state were not ponying up any funds of their own. If the complaint is about Atlanta’s traffic problems, then there should be plenty of outrage directed toward the state capitol, which has ignored this problem for decades. Why should it be the federal government’s burden to fix Atlanta’s traffic problems all by itself, when there is no support from the state?

Bob – what exactly did Atlanta do wrong here, and what should they have done instead within the context of this funding?

Ward

November 19th, 2010
9:31 am

Greg, keep your short attention span to yourself. This boondoggle isn’t going away, and it’s going to cost us millions of dollars now, a billion or more eventually. Politicians love that we eventually get bored and quit worrying about this kind of cr@p. It’s standard operating procedure, in fact.

jconservative

November 19th, 2010
9:36 am

My understanding is that the streetcar project is not for moving Atlanta residents around but to move tourists with money to spend around to places where they can spend money.

But I live in a rural county of under 14,000 residents. We still have plenty of dirt roads. If someone gave us a streetcar today we would turn it into a chicken wing place tomorrow.

bbb

November 19th, 2010
9:39 am

I just wish the streetcar perhaps went somewhere that Atlantans could use too for other sights. Like up and down Peachtree…..the Fox, the High, Puppetry Arts, and places that attract locals as well. Crime really needs to be addressed if we want tourism to be a focus of the city.

Frank

November 19th, 2010
9:40 am

While most everything Mr. Barr says here is true, what he fails to address is the ability of projects like this to inspire other smart growth strategies and projects. Cumulatively, they can make a big difference in future growth and development patterns, and the city would be foolish to simply live in the moment without giving any consideration to what the city will be like in 25 or 50 years. Suburbia seemed like a great idea once upon a time, but as we are now seeing, no one gave much consideration to what future generations (i.e. you and me) would reap (i.e. the traffic Mr. Barr writes about today) and so, we are perhaps coming full circle to a different yet “notalgic” way of viewing cities. Think long term!

Joe the Plutocrat (the artist fomerly known as paleo-neo-Carlinist)

November 19th, 2010
9:40 am

this is going to sound odd, but I live within walking distance of the “King Center” MARTA. what were the odss that the King Center MARTA stop would itself be walking distance from the MLK, Jr.historic district? know what I do when I want to got to Centennial Park, World of Coca Cola, or the Aquarium (hypothetically, of course)? I walk to MARTA, and take the train to Omni/GA Dome. actually, I have a better idea. take the $42 million, remove the section of MARTA tracks between the King Center and Omni/GA Dome stops, and replace it with an underground streetcar. in fact, the path is already cleared, so they won’t have to waste money digging a tunnel or demolishing buildings!

ABD

November 19th, 2010
9:41 am

The streetcars did fail mid-century but it had nothing to do with the automobile being a better urban alternative. The street cars failed because the street-car industry had to go it on their own while the auto-manufaturing and road construction were, and still are, heavily aided by federal dollars. If the gas tax went up to $8 or $9 a gallon (which is where most studies show it needs to be to cover road maintenance and construction), we would have eveyone begging for mass transportation, bike paths, and other alternatives.

Frank

November 19th, 2010
9:41 am

bbb, I agree with you on alternative routes. When I read about this streetcar, the first thing I thought was “Wouldn’t it make more sense to run a streetcar up Peachtree from Downtown to Buckhead?”.

joe

November 19th, 2010
9:46 am

This should never see the light of day, esp. with our economic mess. Same thing with the proposed rail to Charlotte.

Captain Midnight

November 19th, 2010
9:49 am

It’s gonna funnell tourists to the King center. Nuff said..
Thank you John “invoke MLK’s name in every sentence” Lewis

Lima

November 19th, 2010
10:14 am

Where does the federal government get the money to hand out these multi-million $ grants? They just print some more, that’s where. It’s no wonder John Lewis keeps getting re-elected, reeling in pork like this.

atlpaddy

November 19th, 2010
10:25 am

I know, let’s spend more money ‘relieving congestion’ by drastically widening the downtown connector, I-285, and I-75 north of I-285. That will definitely work, just like it did back in the late 1980s!!

Idiots.

Scorpio

November 19th, 2010
10:26 am

Wow! I’m not even a fan of Bob Barr but, the truth shall set you free. You trip over homeless people getting into and out of city hall, students are not safe at Georgia Tech, Underground Atlanta is in shambles and this is what passes for leadership in Atlanta.

Bus man

November 19th, 2010
10:28 am

Wouldn’t it be cheaper to run open trolleys, trams, or buses over the same route for about 1/10 the cost? Oh wait.. they did and NOBODY rode them.

If you want to setup and run a dowtown tourist loop with buses/trams go for it. $72M for a streetcar that goes a mile? What are the tracks made of gold?

on the far (right) side

November 19th, 2010
10:33 am

Good or a bad idea set aside, this contract was to promote Georgia jobs, then WHY-WHY-WHY did the manufacturing contract go to a Asian firm overseas??? When Siemens has a light rail/traction drive facility here in Alpharetta??? The norteast corridor for Amtract saw fit to award them a contract… But the “Big A” looked elsewhere!! Way to go “dumb A**”.

on the far (right) side

November 19th, 2010
10:37 am

@busman,
take note…$72M divided by a mile (5280 feet) equals $13,636.36 a foot. You are spot on…. a trip to Booddoggle, AKA Centenial Park

TIRED OF LAME RHETORIC FROM PEOPLE WHO DON'T GET IT

November 19th, 2010
10:40 am

If this project was in Dunwoody, the AJC would be all in favor of it… but because it’s in Atlanta, and well, the AJC hates Atlanta, this is a “boondoogle”. Everything Atlanta does to you people is a “boondoggle”. The city is an unsafe, dangerous war zone! If it’s so horrible, leave us alone in Atlanta! Just forget about us… we won’t care.

luangtom

November 19th, 2010
10:42 am

This project will be a boondoggle just like the rest of the projects and scams the City of Atlanta is or has been involved in. We still do not know where the missing millions of dollars from the airport advertising debacle or other such incidents are or disappeared to. We see Gwinnett County opening new fire-stations, yet Atlanta closes some of theirs. We see MARTA not running efficiently. We see a Water Department that cannot even meter water without error. No, this project will be no different than others that Atlanta has mis-run and destroyed. Street-cars were abandoned years ago for a reason…….

But, hey, let’s put up a ferris-wheel like London and let’s go to Great Britain with our hands out and beseech of the Prince money to rebuld neighborhoods Atlanta let die and will do so again after the Prince’s money runs out. Go Atlanta…………

David

November 19th, 2010
10:46 am

“We need more and more projects like the streetcar to help make the city a more desirable place. Tourism results in retail, retail results in in-town household development. Once people live in the city, they can experience things like nice restaurants, sporting events, concerts, plays, proximity to the airport, museums, and less traffic. Or they can stay in Cobb in a very big house that they don’t use and go out to eat at Applebees.”

More retail is not going to provide the types of jobs that will pay for nice restaurants, sporting events, concerts, etc. It will provide more seasonal jobs for people that can’t afford to live downtown. Now, maybe if there was an Applebee’s downtown…

letitride

November 19th, 2010
10:52 am

I would much rather have tourist riding a streetcar then trying to navigate the roads with all the morons who think they are capable of driving like nascar drivers but aren’t…

Atlantarama

November 19th, 2010
10:55 am

A double-decker bus on the same route would be cheaper and just as popular.

dummys

November 19th, 2010
10:56 am

What people don’t seem to realize is that this is only part of a larger project to connect people. It is something most cities need.

jewcowboy

November 19th, 2010
10:57 am

“I would much rather have tourist riding a streetcar then trying to navigate the roads with all the morons who think they are capable of driving like nascar drivers but aren’t…”

AMEN!

NPR

November 19th, 2010
10:57 am

A streetcar to nowhere. Worse than a bridge to nowhere, if’n you be askin’ moi.

Trapped in a Red state

November 19th, 2010
11:05 am

Bob

This does not happen often……but, I agree with you 100%.

Darth Hater

November 19th, 2010
11:15 am

A slow-moving streetcar through the streets of Atlanta would just give the jive-talking, urine-scented professional panhandlers more opportunities to jump and AXE the visiting, unsuspecting tourists suburbanites for free money.

Visiting the “real” Downtown Atlanta is almost as appealing as visiting the Atlanta portrayed in THE WALKING DEAD TV series.

Purge that cesspool with fire by the U.S. Military, let’s try again.

Nan

November 19th, 2010
11:30 am

This doesn’t happen often, but I agree with you, Mr. Barr. This boondoggle may make the tourists happy, but it’s not going to do a thing to solve Atlanta’s traffic woes. The route it’s going to cover is short enough to walk, so what’s the point other than to make sure tourists don’t bump into quite so many pandhandlers on the sidewalks?

Downtowner

November 19th, 2010
11:33 am

About a month ago I had to yell at a crazed, aggressive and obviously whacked-out panhandler stalking tourists near the King Center. Why would ANYONE ride a streetcar, regular car, rickshaw, or any other vehicle to the King Center till they make it safe for tourists? I live in downtown. I see the problems everyday… all this boondoggle will do is snarl up traffic. It’s like putting icing on a turd cake.

Doug

November 19th, 2010
12:06 pm

A bus that LOOKS like a trolley would be much cheaper. And we wouldn’t have to pay to rip out any decaying tracks once the project proves unwanted by actual riders and is ultimately abandoned.

Atlantarama

November 19th, 2010
12:44 pm

@Doug,
They tried look-alikes a few years back down Peachtree, but the seats were uncomfortable, getting on them was a pain, and they weren’t popular. I agree there are cheaper alternatives. I do think double-deckers with an open-air upper level like sight-seeing buses might do well on some routes.

mike

November 19th, 2010
12:50 pm

It is nice to see so many critics of the system expressing their positive comments which as usual offer no alternative. How about if you disagree so much just don’t ride it when it is built. Sort of like tv. If you don’t like what you see then turn it off. When is the last time Mr Barr contributed anything to the city besides negative articles about the leadership and the city itself.

hotlanta

November 19th, 2010
12:50 pm

It’s just amazong how the Mayor Kasim Reed can go get a check for 45 M for streetcars and Sonny Perdue the Governor couldn’t get any money for MARTA. Priceless

Jefferson

November 19th, 2010
1:30 pm

Atlanta is gonna love the streetcar, way cool.

Eric

November 19th, 2010
1:39 pm

Who would bother seeing the World of Coke anyway?

ANSWER THIS QUESTION

November 19th, 2010
1:54 pm

Why should the city of Atlanta pay to fix the metro areas traffic problems? The worst traffic is outside 285 or through Downtown on 75/85 because suburban folks are just passing through. Maybe if the METRO AREA had it’s act together (the suburban counties) we could ALL work together to solve our traffic problems. In the meantime, the city of Atlanta should do what it needs to do to make itself a better place to live, work, and visit.

Atlantabytes

November 19th, 2010
2:29 pm

The AJC and Barr continue to prove they are deserving of the Creative Loafing headline Dunwoody Constitution.

The streetcar (at this phase) is NOT meant to ease traffic. However, the fully built-out streetcar will ease traffic as a part of the whole comprehensive transit masterplan for the city and the region. The phase being funded by the TIGER II funds is meant to be a stake-in-the-ground for our larger transit plans. In order to have a fully functioning regional system, we have to start somewhere and this is a small step in the right direction.

The streetcar is not some pet project supported by “John Lewis and some local business leaders”. It is part of the City’s Connect Atlanta Transportation Master Plan and part of the Atlanta Regional Commissions Concept 3 plan. The rail laid by this round of funding will transport light rail vehicles from the BeltLine to the Service Station (funded by this round of funding) and carry passengers to the MultiModal station.

The streetcar will NOT be a financial boondoggle. Ask experts in Charlotte, Dallas, Portland and Houston about the ridership and funding prospects at the start of their projects. Ask them what kind of success they have seen. In EVERY case, ridership projections were crushed, income has been higher than expected and economic development (taxbase and jobs) projections have also been blown away.

The only semblance of a point the AJC has is that the City is facing extremely difficult financial decisions.

But the City cannot afford to not build the streetcar. The City is spending $10 million of its own money to get a $72 million project. Even if you skew the numbers (like the AJC) they are spending $15 million. HB277 is the only prospect for transit funding on the horizon and it will many years before we see the $. Atlanta won’t see another federal grant without local matching funds and those funds are years away. This was our one chance and our only shovel ready project. We had to take it.

Tracy

November 19th, 2010
2:47 pm

I can’t help but feel that the companies involved in building this streetcar are being very um, “nice”, to all the Atlanta board members pushing for this thing.

Are the leaders really this foolish with the tax money or are they taking kickbacks from the streetcar builders ? Who knows.

Double decker busses Much Cheaper

November 19th, 2010
3:03 pm

For a couple million you could buy a fleet of double decker city buses, as they cost around $300K each.

A double decker bus, like the ones they use in Vegas or New York, would be just as neat as a StreetCar without the obvious issues of startup costs, construction costs, and obviously with a bus you don’t need to lay railroad track for new routes

Sally

November 19th, 2010
4:39 pm

Has AJC’s flight to the suburbs made it numb to the offensiveness of racist comments like the ones above from Joe and AJC Stinks? Or is the problem that no one at AJC monitors blog comments?

iRun

November 19th, 2010
5:01 pm

Am I the only one who sees the title of this blog on the Opinion page and thinks, at first glance, it reads, “A streetcar name whore”?

tomitron

November 19th, 2010
6:05 pm

Too many ignorant comments about Atlanta to address here, starting with Mr. Barr’s, but fortunately the Obama administration understands that there’s more to addressing transportation problems than highways. More than ten percent of the 5 million plus people living in metropolitan Atlanta live inside I-285. We have transportation issues, too, but the solutions don’t involve additional highways here in town. Long-term solutions to our problems are not premised on making life more convenient for those who choose a lifestyle that depends on driving a car everywhere they go.

Dirty Dawg

November 19th, 2010
6:20 pm

Attempted to post what I felt was a thoughtful, positive, piece about this earlier today, but because I also took Mr. Barr to task for his continued knee-jerk criticism of Atlanta, it never made the cut. Of course I also had mentioned a ‘take’ from jdI2 above who reminded ‘Bob’ why they live in Cobb County – obviously it had something to do with the fact that the streetcar would promote moving African American visitors back and forth between the MLK Historic Site and Centennial Park – and, of course, we all know why Cobb voted down MARTA back in the 60’s…because jd just reminded us.

Now let’s see if the so-in-so’s will post this one.

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matt

November 20th, 2010
9:09 am

J.B. STONER

November 20th, 2010
10:33 am

Have we not had this conversation about Lewis before?

He is a marxist like his communist idol was.

He needs to go march on I-285 during rush hour..

And what does ‘MARTA’ stand for ???

Yeah, yall remember….

ITP

November 20th, 2010
2:04 pm

The comments from the super conservative suburbanites, including Bob Barr, are typical and classic. Slam any idea that doesn’t involve adding five more lanes to existing highways, and deride any transit-involved transportation solution as a waste of money, socialist, Marxist, etc. Of course, any expensive road-widening project in the suburbs that does little to reduce congestion is a good use of taxpayer money, because it’s spent in places where the people that matter live.

November

November 20th, 2010
2:28 pm

This is another one of those “Politically Correct” things built by blacks for blacks. The money could be better used by the APS…..if the problems with the schools don’t get corrected, there’s not gonna be anyone in the city except blacks and, as has been shown by the money pit known as Underground Atlanta, will be a losing proposition. C’mon folks, use some sense. Thanks Bob Barr, a great American for keeping this boondoggle in the news.

StopTheSprawl

November 20th, 2010
2:52 pm

Bob, I usually agree with half the stuff you put out, and most of the stuff with which I disagree is tolerable, and a good read – but your comments here can be summed into one big pile of excrement.
What’s your solution, more roads? That’ll help! If you are going to have streetcars and light rail transit to ultimately cut down traffic, you’ve got to start somewhere! (The interstate system wasn’t built overnight, remember???)
One of Atlanta’s main revenue sources is tourism – so why not use a tourist based system to get started with a streetcars? If the ‘forward looking’ post WWII politicians had not been wooed by the auto industry in the early 1950’s, the ‘trackless trolley” system (electric buses) would not have replaced the streetcars, and we would have rail transit stretching way beyond I285…. like it used to be.
I guess that if you had it your way, we’d just pave our way out of congestion (Apparently you’ve never checked with a traffic planner on that one, huh?) Got your road construction buds out there drooling at the prospect of removing more private Atlanta property from the tax rolls? Thanks!
The city (the REAL city) is working on changing itself. We’re going to succeed. We don’t need the outside sniping of all the sprawl freaks that really enjoy spending most of their life behind the wheel.

Alabama Communist

November 20th, 2010
3:33 pm

Will the one streetcar be Red or simply Blue to hack off Republican Tea Party tourists?

Michael

November 20th, 2010
4:05 pm

Marta, Underground, Atlantic Station, all good ideas ruined by thugs. Why do you think the street car would be any different. The only people riding it will be criminals and gang members.

Big Nick

November 20th, 2010
4:35 pm

What else would expect???

Can anyone name one U.S. city in the past 30 years, that has been run by blacks, whose public school system is not in the toilet? That isn’t bankrupt? Whose corrupt leaders are continuously sent to prison? Whose crime rate is not out of control? Who keep electing the F-ing people, because they know in the end it will be the white man that bails them out through taxes?

The answer is “NO”. Just look at ATL.,D.C., N.O., Detroit, Baltimore, Philadelphia, L.A. (hispanic), etc.

GreatATLGuy

November 20th, 2010
5:56 pm

Michael Lomax should come back as the conductor of the street car line… the monkey got choked and they all chewed tobacco in a little row boat. Add some palm trees on the line route and it’s 1985 all over again!

Spend it and they will come

November 20th, 2010
6:17 pm

When I see comments like this will increase tourism and if Atlanta hadn’t got the grant it would be spent somewhere else, I want to scream. A streetcar is not going to increase tourism. The attractions do. How many people out there do you think are saying to themselves, “the Aquarium, Coke Museum, and Centennial Park sound nice. Too bad they don’t have a streetcar for us to get around. Let’s just go to Disneyworld instead.”

Keep in mind, the Federal money is OUR money also. I keep trying to figure out why we keep getting Federal money. Perhaps we should lower the Federal taxes significantly offset by an increase in state taxes where we have more of a say in what OUR money is being used for.

Sherman

November 20th, 2010
6:33 pm

Bob, I understand what you’re saying here. But why do you never offer a SOLUTION, or are you paid to only just be a nag and call out problems as you see them?

Ron

November 20th, 2010
7:54 pm

Hey Scott, how many of the locals in downtown visit: Fine restaurants, plays, concerts, museums, Hartsfield or other fine venues? Better yet, who has the money? (a small percentage I’ll bet)
I live in Cobb, stay out of here.

Ron

November 20th, 2010
8:09 pm

Sally, why don’t you monitor my thoughts and send me to re-education centers while you’re at it.

Architect

November 20th, 2010
8:39 pm

The streetcar is not about reducing traffic, Mr Barr. In fact, it is about making the city of Atlanta more livable and walkable both for tourists and residents alike.

Your “common sense” argument about the previous streetcar system fails to acknowledge the many factors that led to the demise of a past system (White flight, Auto Companies buying streetcar companies to turn these into bus routes, the rise of the car-centric suburb, etc) .

The argument that projects should favor a Point A to Point B approach are typically those that lead to widening roads as a way to reduce traffic. Has this approach EVER worked for Atlanta? the connector is already one of the widest stretches of interstate in the US. And where has that gotten us? MORE traffic. Widening roads just allows for more cars. investing in public transit allows for businesses to flourish, for tourists to visit more comfortably, and for some of us who enjoy to live intown and actually get out of our cars to BE in the city in a more humane way.

You should perhaps look into your arguments more in-depth and then really think about what they mean. Perhaps you are not familiar with Atlanta? When was the last time you experienced it without the barrier of your car? Cities are for living, not for commuting. In that respect, the streetcar get it right. What it doesn’t get right, is only the fact that it is not big enough to really make an impact. This is where the Beltline falls into place.

-LC

Streetcars are a waste

November 20th, 2010
8:49 pm

Those of you saying that this isn’t about reducing traffic congestion should read the news release by the City of Atlanta, which said that one of the reasons for this project was “reducing gridlock.”

http://www.atlantaga.gov/media/nr_streetcarpressconf_102010.aspx

JD

November 20th, 2010
9:02 pm

Probably one of the top 5 stupidest ideas for the City of Atlanta. The cost is over the top for something that will fail from lack of use. If you want to build a streetcar line, run it north/south from Arts Center Marta station to 5 Points Marta. At least then it will connect to rail lines and have destinations along the route.

A Realist

November 20th, 2010
9:21 pm

You in town living people enjoy being harassed by the thugs and panhandlers? The streetcar will become another venue for the lowlifes can prowl upon. I think the designated money should go the APD so they can focus on getting the gangs, thugs, and drug trafficking folks apprehended and prosecuted. Then, downtown might be an area where nice restaurants, street cars, and public venues would be viable for locals as well as tourists. Until then, no thanks. I have a dream that the downtown area will again be safe so that our fine college students can once again walk the streets around campus and not be accosted, killed, or robbed by the local thugs. Also, ask any of the merchants whose stores have been impacted by the smash and grab thieves how they think this money should be spent.

Ben

November 20th, 2010
9:25 pm

Yawn. This article was lame the first time I read it weeks ago when Wingfield wrote it.

That's right.

November 20th, 2010
9:37 pm

Hey Bob – where do u live downtown? oh that’s right, you’re in Cobb! Nevermind.

Dusty

November 21st, 2010
12:02 am

Well, those street cars are going to be as cute as a button. The Japanese will put lotsa gold and lanterns and tassels on them. Tourists will bow saying “Ah so Atlanta! Chop Suey & teriyaki too.” ! Terrific!!

But more is needed. There must be Japanese bumper cars in City Hall for politicians. No more back stabbing behind closed doors. Anybody taking more than their share of the loot will get the BIG bump! The mayor gets gold plates on his car (a gift from the Japanese)..

And MORE! We must have golf carts (cute Jap models) on 285, 85 and 75. They will be a great help to State Patrol and gas economy. Just think! How many cities have golf carts to guide tourists into town? There. I told you so. Not a one of those slow thinkers..

Yes, sir, Mr. Barr. You need to spend more time at the bar. Brings up great ideas. That’s how we got trolley cars.

Ward

November 21st, 2010
1:23 am

I can propose an VERY viable alternative to wasting $72 million building a mile or two of streetcar track on a bus route that’s already failed… DON’T! The Feds don’t have the money, the city doesn’t have the money and there’s no demonstrable demand for it… stop looking for ways to throw money (we don’t have) down a hole. It’s a crazy idea, but it just might work…

A lee

November 21st, 2010
1:59 am

The joy of living downtown , on MARTA rail line, belt line, and streetcar will be when China, and India start using more fuel and the gas prices here go back through the roof! We will see who laughs last and loudest! Certainly not car/ road driven suburbia….

John Tackett

November 21st, 2010
4:32 am

Will not relieve gridlock – that is not an issue on that corridor. Buses can do the job just as easily. The streetcar WILL NOT be using dedicated lanes so they are at the whim of infamous Atlanta drivers who stop “just to quickly run in” to a business. The frequency of the streetcars has not been determined (again, why not a bus.) If tourist wanted to really go to the King Center, they would be going – this is nothing more than a “free” (to the King Center) way of getting tourists there. Will not create jobs – if businesses wanted to be on that corridor, they would already be there. Money could of been better spent on the Beltline,
As a cyclists in the city, there are other alternative transit plans that could better use the funds. Nuff said.

John Tackett

November 21st, 2010
4:39 am

Article states, “which is forecasted to have 2,600 boardings per day.’ Say at $3 per fare that is $7,800 per day in fare revenue? That is just under $3 million a year. I am sure the upkeep costs for this are more than $3 million a year. Is that figure of boardings correct?

Willis

November 21st, 2010
7:32 am

Don’t think Let’s Make a Deal Deal will miss out on this opportunity – his salvage business will be ready to take care of the messed up vehicles when the venture flops.

Bill Johnson

November 21st, 2010
8:20 am

Tourists are such a large part of your economy (I’m in Cobb nyah, nyah), right? Why do they come to Atlanta again? Oh, that’s right, they don’t anymore.

Hey, let’s set out a $72M streetcar as bait! We’ll staff it with idiots, allow the homeless to live on it, then wonder why it’s empty.

Dumb with a capital STUPID.

R.Bino

November 21st, 2010
8:34 am

Keys to success: link the streetcar route(s) to MARTA train station(s) and the Beltline thereby creating the beginning of a multipurpose transportation system we continue to read and talk about. Good for residences and good for tourists! Hey a positive suggestion in the comments section. How about that! More positive suggestions and less negative comments…maybe…please.

J.B. STONER

November 21st, 2010
8:45 am

LEWIS WILL FUNNEL THE MONIES TO HIS SLIMY POCKETS…………….

BUT YOU CAN GET A FREE COKE AT THE MUSEAUM………

Ben

November 21st, 2010
10:08 am

Wow. The level of ignorance in here is astounding.

You all realize Atanta is the most visited city in the Southeast right? Bringing in almost 40 million people a year. That’s billions of dollars in revenue directly into the local economy.

Dirty Dawg

November 21st, 2010
11:22 am

To the JBs, the Rons and the rest of you that are ’still’ complaining about, whatever name you wish to call them, the folks that ride MARTA, visit Underground and Atlantic Station, and tell them to stay outa’ Cobb…how’s that effort to ‘beat back Evolution’ going for you. Fact is I grew up in Cobb, raised my kids in Cobb, but gotta tell you when you and your mega-churses (most of ‘em Babtist) decided to have all the science text books labeled as ‘anti-evolution’, I decided it was time to engage in a little ‘natural selection’ of my own, and get the hell out of Cobb the first chance I got.

By the way, ‘architect’ is right. People that don’t get that just don’t want to ‘get it’ and only wish to perpetuate stereotypes and prejudice.,,good luck with that out in JB Stonerville.

sibustat 15

November 22nd, 2010
6:38 am

an excellent example of standing material

Nick Knight

November 23rd, 2010
11:32 am

What is needed is a full system, not a small one. But, hey Americans are more about building bombs. There is a reason America has continued to ffall in living standard. This same thing is being played out all over. We can not even manage to build a full street car system.
This country is all about excuses.